12th Annual Memorial Service to Honor Homeless Individuals Who Passed Away in 2016

CONCORD – The 12th Annual Homeless Memorial Service will take place Friday, November 18, 2016 from 10:00AM – 1:00PM at the Concord United Methodist Church located at 1645 West St., Concord, CA 94521. The Memorial is planned and hosted by the community-based non-profit, Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. (Anka), to remember the lives of the homeless men and women in this County who have passed away over the last year.

Anka’s homeless services team has faithfully hosted this special memorial service for the past twelve years, gathering the entire community together to remember and celebrate the lives of those who have passed over the last year. Of the numerous men and women being honored this year, many have passed while living on the streets or in encampments, while others who have passed were formerly homeless or homeless service providers and advocates. The number of people remembered always increases on the day of the event as the homeless community often reveals additional individuals at the service and honors their passing.

As the ninth largest county in California, homelessness remains an important issue for Contra Costa County.  According to the 2016 Point in Time (PIT) Homeless Count, an estimated 3,500 individuals identify as homeless or at risk of homelessness.  Although the total number of homeless individuals has reportedly decreased in recent years (2,415 individuals in 2011 to 1,730 in 2016), according to the PIT data, there have been notable shifts in regions where homeless people are.  From 2015 to 2016, the number of unsheltered individuals by region has decreased in West and Central by 45% and increased in East County by 33%.

Anka’s homeless outreach team has historically provided day outreach to the homeless community and services provided in this region. Currently, the team makes daily visits to encampments, the streets, and other locations where homeless individuals frequent to provide information about services in the area. Concurrently, the team works with County Homeless Continuum of Care, numerous homeless service providers, the business community, faith-based agencies, and other community partners to increase awareness and provide shelter and services.

Starting in January 2017, Anka’s outreach team will change to providing night outreach six days per week as part of the new countywide Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement (CORE) teams.  The evening outreach team will join daytime CORE teams, operated by the County, to engage individuals and families living on the streets and connect them to services. While homelessness remains a concern for all regions in the County, the CORE teams concentrate efforts to reach homeless individuals in the eastern region of the county (Antioch, Pittsburg, etc.), where the number of unsheltered individuals has significantly increased. This team will also work collaboratively with Anka’s new Central County Warming Center, a short-term, night emergency center connected to Anka’s Coordinated Assessment REsource (CARE Center) in Concord.

Whether the team provides outreach during the day or at night, they develop genuine connections with the people they serve – many of whom conquer homelessness and find housing and recovery and, sadly, many who pass away on the streets due to health issues, substance use, and violence. Anka pledges to honor those who have passed on, and to continue to provide support and care for the homeless.

The Homeless Memorial will include a color guard composed of veterans, prayer, guest speakers from Anka, County behavioral health and homeless services departments, and homeless and veterans affairs advocates, a bubble ceremony, and an open forum in which attendees may share personal memories about those who have passed. A free lunch is provided for all memorial attendees by Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa County and Church Women United, Concord.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the memorial service, please contact Shayne Kaleo at 925-435-3650.

About Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. (Anka): Anka is a non-profit organization with the mission to eliminate the impact of behavioral health problems for all people. In operation since 1973, Anka provides caring, dependable, and professional behavioral health and social service programs that serve nearly 15,000 individuals and their families each year. Anka has provided award-winning homeless services within Contra Costa County for over 25 years. These services include an outreach team concentrated on outreach efforts to homeless encampments, three CARE Centers (formerly called Multi-Service Centers) that provide immediate (showers, food, etc.) and long-term (therapy groups, housing and benefits assistance, etc.) support, an emergency shelter solely for homeless individuals with mental health needs, and scattered-site, permanent housing. Anka also provides multiple residential and outpatient programs within Contra Costa County that serve individuals with behavioral health needs. For more information, please visit www.ankabhi.org

Media Contacts:
Christina Antos, Senior Manager of Business Development and Marketing
Anka Behavioral Health, Inc.
1850 Gateway Blvd., Suite 900
Concord, CA 94520
Tel: (925) 825-4700

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